While I’d never heard this phrase before last weekend, Full of Win summarizes perfectly how I feel about this yearâ€™s Webmaster Jam Session. The schedule was packed with awesome talks by industry leaders I personally look up to – literally in the case of Todd Dominey & Garrett Dimon. There were so many (web) rock stars at the conference like Chris Pederick, who created the Web Developer Toolbar; Ethan Marcotte, the unstoppable robot ninja who works at Airbag Industries; and Nick Finck, the Blue Flavored founder of Digital Web Magazine. It was an honor to be presenting a panel among such talent.
Here are a few things I learned from the panels I attended:
- From Rob Weychertâ€™s Design Lessons in Chess – After quoting Sun Tzo, Rob went on to explain how strategy without tactics is like attempting to design a website without putting much thought toward the Information Architecture. Tactics without strategy however, he explained, is like trying to designing a website without knowing anything about the client.
- From Ethan Marcotteâ€™s Comps vs. Code: Couplesâ€™ Therapy – Ethan once worked with a designer who gave him a flattened Photoshop document to build HTML from. When he asked the designer why, he/she responded that “I was afraid of something changing.” Ethan explained how this kind of relationship doesn’t work between designer/developer and how he has learned to maintain communication through “The Handoff”.
- From Aarron Walterâ€™s
Findability Bliss Through Web Standards – “The three simple goals of findability: 1) Help people find the website. 2) Help people find the content they’re seeking. 3) Encourage return visits.”
- From Chris Heilmann & Dan Rubinâ€™s Making Accessibility Sexy – “Making the Business Case for Accessibility: More users equals more customers, helps create goodwill for your brand, less chance of future legal action”
New brain-expanding knowledge aside, the best part of any conference is the chance to meet new people. At some conferences this can be an intimidating task, but not at the Jam Session. It’s just large enough of a conference to feel like part of a crowd, but small enough that you get opportunities to interact with the same people more than once. It was great to see a lot of familiar faces and meet new ones from all corners of the web.
Another interesting event from this year’s conference was the mysterious disappearance of Freddie the MailChimp mascot. MailChimp was one of the sponsors of this year’s Jam Session and placed a life-size(?) cutout of their cuddly mascot at the entrance of the main Loudermilk conference room. At the end of the first day, Freddie was abducted by someone who went by the Twitter & Flickr handle: ihazurchimp. At first this seemed like a simple practical joke, then maybe a publicity stunt. With each twitter update and Flickr post, it became more and more obvious that it wasn’t MailChimp, and that Freddie was not going to be returned. When Freddie showed up in South Carolina, I started suspecting my fellow Columbia residents, but I believe my coworker Ken Seals has solved the mystery. If his theory isn’t correct, the suspects have some ‘splainin to do.